Discussion in 'Cube Talk' started by Chris Taylor, Dec 28, 2015.
Nice article Jason (Link for the Lazy)
My cube must look like a fucking hourglass at this point
Oh, thanks, I didn't actually realize this had gone online yet.
Since we're talking about funny shapes, I feel okay being a bit pedantic and saying that I think the pyramid diagram is probably something more like a pyramid on top of a cube. Or perhaps a pyramid on top of a short, fat rectangular prism. (because as you state, you do lose access to the topmost sections of your, uh... shape, when you descend in power level). tl;dr CT has an hourglass figure, you heard it here first, labrats
Basically everyone is using some amount of vertical space. Retail limited is near the bottom, and is wide as hell. Ancestral is at the top, and there's like maybe 10 cards that are it's peer.
I think the pyramid metaphor is a good one for magic's card pool overall. Since cubes by their nature (Barring some BTP bullshit) don't use all the cards in magic, you won't be using the whole of the pyramid either, so you'll have access to a certain horizontal slice of the overall magic pyramid. You probably don't want too tall a horizontal slice, since otherwise people end up getting to choose between goblin piker and Gideon Jura in their opening packs, and you don't want to make it too thin since you still need (probably) at least 360 cards.
Also, clearly I was wrong. Here's what my cube looks like:
80 custom cards currently in there, let alone how many onetime slight changes to existing cards I've left by the wayside.
So not so much an hourglass, as.....hugs?
Great article. I would agree with Aoret on the "prism not a pyramid" comment, though Jason's article alludes to this (and using a pyramid is easier to convey the general idea so I get why that was done).
I'd also like to point out that some cards appear to be really synergistic with your themes but because the mechanic they support is so readily available, there are times it can be more a liability than a benefit. This is especially true of symmetrical effects. Innocent blood was the example given and it's exactly the kind of card I'm talking about. If you are the only sacrifice deck, it's synergistic and you break symmetry. In that scenario, it's a rock star card. Against other decks that benefit from sacrificing, it can actually be unplayable. If I'm the blood ghast guy staring down a Reveillark, Innocent Blood might as well be one with nothing for all I can do with it. You can always side it out, but those cards can sometimes be "feel bad" cards when they look like they fit perfectly into what you are doing but then the game plays out and it might as well be a nombo.
great article Jason!
This is a good point. I not really experienced Innocent Blood backfiring first-hand much, but I'm sure the potential is there. That said, I do like when players have to sideboard thoughtfully based on the matchup.
Great job Jason, it's neat to see your ideas presented on mainstream channels like CFB! You're on a roll, man!
It seems that your "power pyramid" is the thing that has caught the most attention, and deservedly so, as it gives a nice and handy visual image wherein cube design can be conceptualized. It definitely got my juices flowing, and the burning questions on my mind are these:
1) Since the total cardpool is what creates the pyramid shape, one's personal cube will occupy a space within the pyramid and create it's own shape therein. What is the ideal shape of one's cube? I know this is subjective, but for the sake of exploration, let's say we wanted the shape that allowed for the most engaging draft experience as well as the most dynamic, interactive, fluid, decision-laden and creative gameplay. What might this look like? I'm hoping some of the many bright minds on this forum could offer any strong opinions or insights into this!
2) What's the sweet spot (vertically) for this internal cube shape to exist? If this pyramid is the Luxor, what floor do I take the elevator to in order to find the most "happenin" party!? At what level does the power get so high that it ruins the drafting and gameplay experience (GRBS), and at what power level on the low end does the drafting and gameplay experience get bogged down, clunky, or tedious, lacking excitement.
Am I searching for the city of El Dorado or is this possible to find?
Kinda a matter of personal taste I'm afraid. Avoiding the top or the bottom is probably a good start.
The pyrimad model was, from as I understood it, just supposed to express the idea of power bands, and the size of a raw card pool to work with. For example, the problem we have whenever anyone goes to put together a vintage cube is that only a handful of cards end up being playable. The pyrimad nicely expressed why that is.
The quality of the environ is going to be up to the designer, though I agree that it seems much harder at the top or bottom end, though even there, aggressive singleton breaking, card errata, or customs could probably get you through.
This is very much a personal taste thing and to some extent searching for the perfect meta is like looking for El Dorado. Do you believe in soul mates or do you think there are many well suited matches out there? If you find a well suited companion, do you keep looking for something better? It's kind of like that with cube. I think the more ambitious of us have taken to building a cube with a goal and an end point, then moving on to a new cube project leaving the last one "finished". Those of us (like me) still working with just one cube that we keep tweaking or rebuilding, it's a treadmill and there won't be a Shangri-La for us until we change our mindset on what the goal is for our cubes.
I'm still stuck in the mindset that my cube should be representative of the history of Magic and be a "best of" collection of sorts, but the reality is it's shifted a lot from that ideal and I'm not really sure what my cube is anymore other than a sweet collection of cards I enjoy playing with and looking at. For me, building my cube is almost as much fun as playing it. So even though my group has gotten really inconsistent with sessions, I still spend a lot of time working on the cube because I enjoy doing it.
My 2 cents is that the game of Magic is pretty flexible. You can have pretty poorly tuned lists and still have very fun and deep environments. Power level is a bit like spicy food. Do you like Cajun or something with less kick? No right or wrong, just personal preference. Cubes with nothing but broken stuff are still fun, but they are swingy and play differently. Maybe you are into that and maybe you want something more toned down. That really should drive what floor of the Luxor you get off at. The higher you go, the more degenerate things are (generally speaking). Season to taste basically.
Articles like this though are really helpful because they give insight into Magic theory that help you better anticipate what you will find on whatever floor of the Luxor you stop at, and that saves a lot of time with testing and wasted effort trying to shove square pegs into round holes and what not.
just wanted to say that this article is especially good. Thanks for writing it.
Yeah, the article's excellent. Feels like it distills a lot of discussion that's been had here and then goes beyond it. For me, the "eliminate the "leap of faith"" section was particularly well put; the way it expresses the need for cards to blend power and synergy in order to draw people into archetypes resonated for me.
Just don't make it too tall (Wurmcoil/goblin Piker) or too thin (All these cards are exactly equal in power level, what the hell do I do?)
The non-height dimensions don't really mean anything in the metaphor, so I guess volume is cube size? Which is also kinda a matter of personal taste? (Consistency vs Card Variety?)
And yeah, location within the pyramid is essentially power level, so that also depends. some people love goblin guide, some people love...I dunno, Morkrut Banshee? Some people love Dwarven Sea Clan? (I mean they must exist, right? If only in an infinite universe/rule 34 sort of way, right?)
I was going to type a response to B8R but I'd just be repeating what Grillo said.
There is a thread with a lot of discussion on breaking singleton over at the Tomb of Yawgmoth
Thats a nickname I haven't heard
I didn't mean to derail the conversation by spiraling down an off-topic tangential rabbit hole, I was just expressing some really strong thoughts and feelings that were evoked by that pyramid image. As someone who is building a new 360 from the ground up, the fundamental issues of what shape my cube is going to represent powerwise and what floors of the Luxor it's going to inhabit are fundamental and incredibly important to me!
You haven't been here long
Never apologize for derailing.
What do you like in Magic? That's a good starting point for the Luxor floor. Start with what excites you and build from there.
To clarify: I do think Grillo's answer is appropriate, but also agree that there's room for us to elaborate and explore the ramifications of different power levels.
i remember the time that a thread got totally derailed, someone fairly new to the forums tried to right the ship, and then you slapped them on the wrist for it
that was the actual best
(btw the reason we're so pro-derail here is the musings you arrive at ancillary to the post's topic are often of interest to other designers. Also, if you've gotta post it RIGHT THAT SECOND it's probably worth thinking about? In some other places those derails get shunted aside and never developed, which is a shame.)
I'm pretty surprised by some of the conversation in that thread (though I probably shouldn't be). Specifically, with those that assert that breaking singleton isn't "cube" it's a "custom draft format" (like they are different or something). Another one that bothers me is the idea that non power-max cube design is "niche". I just made this same argument on MTGS. When does something not become niche? I feel like there are a lot of people doing non-power max rare cubing these days. Doesn't feel niche at all to me. And as far as wanting to not call it "cube", do we benefit as a community by dividing ourselves like that? This sort of narrow-mindedness upsets me. Seems to me, we'd accomplish more if we were more united and open to new ideas even if we didn't agree or had different goals.
I've debated on making a separate post about this, but I know I rub some people the wrong way with my long winded posts which can sometimes come off as pretentious (I apologize for that - it's not my intent to offend). So I'm certainly not the right person to try and bridge gaps between groups, though I do wish there was less "us versus them" in these forums. Like designing cube isn't esoteric enough, we need to be all fragmented as a community like Democrats and Republicans. Feels very non-productive to me.
Sorry for the rant.
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